The Austin Chronicle

Moonlight Director Returns to SXSW

By Richard Whittaker, July 24, 2017, 10:00am, SXSW

In 2008, a little-known filmmaker named Barry Jenkins premiered his first film, Medicine for Melancholy, at SXSW. A decade later, and with an Oscar for Moonlight on his shelf, he returns as the first announced keynote speaker for SXSW 2018.


Celebrating the filmmaker's return to the festival after 10 years (and you can read our 2008 interview with Jenkins about his debut here), SXSW Director of Film Janet Pierson said, “Moonlight is a magnificent piece of work, transcendent, and made on his own terms. We couldn’t be happier for his success and to have this remarkable artist with such a generous soul return to SXSW.”

Jenkins (who is currently developing If Beale Street Could Talk and The Underground Railroad) headlines the film component of next year's conference. Taking on the same role for Interactive will be psychotherapist Esther Perel, TED talk star and author of global bestseller Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence, while William Hurley, aka Chaotic Moon studio founder and crowdfunding pioneer whurley, will deliver the keynote for the Convergence track.

Alongside that first round of keynotes (expect the Music track announcement much nearer the festival), SXSW has also added its initial wave of featured speakers:

• Futurist and space entrepreneur Bob Richards, co-founder of multiple companies hoping to privatize space travel, including Moon Express Inc. (Intelligent Future track)

• Kaiser Permanente CEO and Chairman Bernard J. Tyson (Health & Wellness track)

• Empowering a Billion Women by 2020 Chair and CEO Ingrid Vanderveldt (Startup & Tech Sectors track)

• Artist and poet Cleo Wade (Social Impact track)

• Future Today Institute founder Amy Webb (Startup & Tech Sectors track)

SXSW Chief Programming Officer Hugh Forrest said the list "represents a diverse and talented group of pioneers in the technology, social sciences, health care, and entertainment industries. The depth and breadth of knowledge these speakers bring to the event is an excellent indicator that this is going to be one of our best years ever.”

SXSW 2018 runs Friday, March 9 to Sunday, March 18, 2018. For badges and info, visit

Just a reminder of a few other important dates coming up:

Aug. 7-25: Community voting at the SXSW PanelPicker

Oct. 20: Final date for Film Festival submissions for features, shorts, episodics, music video, and virtual cinema. Also final date for artist direct applications of the Music Festival.

Dec. 15: Final date for Film Festival submissions for Texas High School shorts and title sequences.

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